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It is fairly early in the season and we already have contenders for ‘wooden spooners’ of IPL 12. Leading the way are two teams — Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore — who will face each other at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Tuesday evening.
Both the sides are coming on the back of contrasting losses on Sunday, the Royals eked out by table-toppers Chennai Super Kings by eight runs but RCB were hammered by 118 runs by the Sunrisers Hyderabad. These two are the only teams in IPL-12 without a win under their belt having played three and lost three matches so far.
It is however, Virat Kohli’s boys who are dead last on the points, having started the season with 70 all out and hit a new low on Sunday after the Sunrisers collared them for 231 runs with Jonny Bairstow and David Warner scoring centuries.
The Royals, on the other hand, have given much more of a fight to their opponents but have failed to finish off their games. They have been at the losing end of a controversial ‘Mankaded’ decision and on Sunday the brilliance and experience of MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo was enough to subdue the Ajinkya Rahane-led side.
RCB are struggling in both the batting as well as the bowling department with Kohli struggling to find answers to their problems. Their bowling woes are unlikely to get any respite in the game at Jaipur with the Royals top 3 — Rahane, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson — looking in fine touch.
Rajasthan should also be buoyed by the form for paceman Jofra Archer, who looked good with both ball and bat in the game against CSK. All-rounder Ben Stokes also found his range against Chennai but failed to get his team across the line.
Although it might still be early days but the Royals and RCB will be feeling the need to get a win under their belt before they are completely out of the running to make the playoffs.
Players to watch out:
Jos Buttler: After a fifty in his first match of the season, the English wicketkeeper-batsman has failed to get going in their next two encounters. A lot of Royals success last season was based on Buttler’s form at the top of the order. With the Englishman set to leave early from the tournament to join his national team’s preparation for the 2019 World Cup, the time is running out for Buttler to hit his straps. For Royals to win a few games on the trot, Buttler will need to be on song.
Virat Kohli: The Indian skipper has looked out of sorts so far this season. Kohli will once again need his willow to do the talking to shut his critics up and get RCB out of the bottom of the table. The lack of runs have affecting Kohli’s leadership skills as well and putting additional pressure on the team. First and foremost, RCB need Virat the batsman to fire to get out of this rut.
Rajasthan Royals: They might be tempted to give Australian Ashton Turner a game to solve the problem of finishing the innings. Turner could replace Steve Smith, who unlike David Warner, is struggling to find his touch on his return from ball-tampering ban.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: They need to ring in plenty of changes to turn their fortunes around. Australian all-rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile will be available for Tuesday’s tie along with Marcus Stoinis. With Colin de Grandhomme and Shimron Hetmeyer both failing to make any significant impact so far, Stoinis and Coulter-Nile could possibly be tried.
Playing XI: RR: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Krishnappa Gowtham, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith/Ashton Turner, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Varun Aaron and Dhawal Kulkarni
RCB: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel (WK), Marcus Stoinis/ Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube, Nathan Coulter-Nile/ Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Pawan Negi and Navdeep Saini
Squads: Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Gopal, Aryaman Birla, S. Midhun, Prashant Chopra, Stuart Binny, Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mahipal Lomror, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Shashank Singh, Liam Livinstone, Shubham Rajane, Manan Vohra, Ashton Turner, Riyan Parag
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel (WK), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Heinrich Klaasen (WK), Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, Pawan Negi, Tim Southee, Akshdeep Nath, Milind Kumar, Devdutt Padikkal, Gurkeerat Singh, Prayas Ray Barman, Kulwant Kejroliya, Navdeep Saini, Himmat Singh.
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